The LORD is near to the brokenhearted; He saves the contrite in spirit.
Genesis 48:11); and when God is spoken of after the manner of men, his face is put for himself (Exodus 33:14). The text is like the mystic pillar of the wilderness. It has two aspects. While God looks forth with love and favour towards his people, he shows himself as terrible to his enemies (Exodus 14:24). His face, wherever seen, is always against those who wilfully and wickedly persist in doing evil.
I. GOD'S FACE IN NATURE IS AGAINST THEM THAT DO EVIL. There is law in nature. To obey the law is to conquer, to disobey is to suffer. As to transgressors, there is neither exception nor immunity. We see the stern, unbending severity of law in the awful passage, Proverbs 1:24-31.
II. GOD'S FACE IN THE HOLY SCRIPTURES IS AGAINST THEM THAT DO EVIL. Take the ten commandments, and from the first to the last it is the same. The Law is holy and just and good. It demands obedience from all, and denounces condemnation and wrath against transgressors, without respect of persons. The recorded judgments of God may be held as expressing the same thing. All through, from Genesis to Malachi, whether as respects nations or individuals, God's face is against the evil-doer. In no part of Scripture is this brought out more vividly and forcibly than in the Psalms.
III. GOD'S FACE, IN THE PERSON OF HIS SON AND OUR SAVIOUR, IS AGAINST THEM THAT DO EVIL. Christ, in his doctrine, his precepts, his example, and in his redemptive work, is wholly and for ever against sin. His object is to "take away sin," and to bring them that do evil to do good and to be the loving and obedient children of God, that they may walk in the light of God's favour for ever. - W.F.
I. THIS HEART FEELS THAT IT DESERVES TO BE BROKEN, DEEPLY HUMBLED, YEA, CRUSHED WITH ANGUISH. The source of its sorrow is conscious delinquency, undeniable guilt, the abuse of many a mercy, and a heedless indulgence in many an evil passion. The sorrow thus produced is oftentimes unspeakably severe. Poverty may depress, persecution may harass, disease may prostrate, and bereavement produce painful blanks in the domestic circle; but a sorrow, more intense than is felt in all these has a place in the broken heart.
The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken ,heart: and sayeth such as be of a contrite spirit.
I. Look AT THE BROKEN HEART AND CONTRITE SPIRIT. "A broken heart," a "crushed spirit," what is it? The heart before us may be Considered to be like a piece of fine mechanism disordered, or some work of art fractured — some work of art made of exquisitely delicate material, and of very fine workmanship; or like flesh when worn and bruised. We selfish men like to look on things that are pleasant, and we frequently turn our faces away from that which is unpleasant. You always find God's face turned towards objects like unto these broken hearts and crushed spirits.
II. NOW TO SUCH A HEART GOD IS NIGH, AND SUCH A SPIRIT GOD SEEKS TO SAVE.
1. He "is nigh" in knowledge, He knows all its history.
2. In ministration. "He saveth such," etc. When God heals the broken heart, it is none the worse for having been broken. An angel could not do this; God can, and does.
III. LEARN THE LESSONS OF THIS TRUTH.
1. DO not morbidly crave for creature help and fellowship. You can do without them, for God Himself is nigh.
2. Do not think, feel, or act as if He were far off. He has all along known how you would be placed, and He is nigh.
3. Remember that the resources of God are available in the hour of greatest need.
4. Do not despond or despair. You may be broken in heart, or crushed in spirit, without despondency, or despair, being elements of your sorrow; you may either cherish these feelings or fight against them. Now the feeblest fighting against them is victorious, if this struggle be carried on in the name of the Redeemer of men. If you find yourself sinking into some horrible pit of despondency and despair, it is your most sacred duty to cry importunately unto Him.
5. Look a little further by the light of this text, and observe that a broken heart and a crushed Spirit are named not as uncommon things. These are not uncommon things in human life; and you who are accustomed to look beyond surface, and beyond curtains, and draperies, and shams, and masks, know this as well as I.
6. But look once more at the text, and mark, that God being nigh is mentioned as something ordinary. A broken heart is common — God's saving is a common thing. Some of you need this text. You need it as a word of warning. You seem to have set yourselves in a kind of morbid obstinacy to cherish a broken heart and a crushed spirit. You seem to have determined to perpetuate your misery. Now this text tells you where to turn for help. You cannot find it apart from God. No man ever yet healed his own crushed spirit, never will. "He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds." Your fellow-Christians, religious books, consolatory hymns — all these are good so long as they lead you to God, but if they come between you and the Great Helper, you are better without them. These books cannot do the work you require to be done for you.
II. A BROKEN HEART IS THANKFUL THAT IT HAS BEEN BROKEN. It feels that a power has been put forth upon it altogether foreign to itself, and apart from any means for this purpose that it could employ; and hence its adoring gratitude for the change effected.
III. A BROKEN HEART DESIRES TO BE MORE AND MORE BROKEN. Washington Irving is represented to have said that "sorrow for the dead is the only sorrow from which we refuse to be divorced. Every other wound we seek to heal, every other affliction to forget; but this wound we consider it a duty to keep open; this affliction we cherish, and brood over in solitude." Such language is, no doubt, very beautiful, and touchingly expressed. But how did this amiable student of the common sympathies of humanity forget that broken heart, of deepest interest, which refuses to be divorced from its sorrow on account of sin?
IV. A BROKEN HEART SURVEYS WITH AMAZEMENT THE INNUMERABLE MERCIES WITH WHICH IT IS ENCOMPASSED. These mercies are like the stars of heaven for multitude; and there stands in the midst of them the gift of God's Son, like the king of day amid the lesser luminaries of the sky. What a mercy is the Word of God! It testifies of Christ, and brings life and immortality to light. What a mercy is a throne of grace! I have sins, and I can go there for pardon; I have a polluted nature, and can go there for purity; I have enemies, and can go there for help; for weakness I can go there for strength; and for sickness, I can go there for health.
V. A BROKEN HEART IS A TENDER HEART — affectionate, forgiving, forbearing.
VI. A BROKEN HEART IS AN ACQUIESCING HEART.
VII. A BROKEN HEART TRIUMPHS IN THE ASSURANCE THAT ALL ITS SORROWS SHALL ISSUE IN RIVERS OF PLEASURE AND A FULNESS OF JOY. Upon what does this assurance rest? It rests upon the fact of its own existence. Why has God broken this heart? That it may never be healed? No, no. Let us not, then, invest it with gloom, and sullenness, and sorrow. Let us invest it with joy.
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